Hello! I'm writing my biography in the first person because I can.
I'm proudly—OK, smugly—a native fourth-generation Seattleite.
I'm a software developer, so I tend to think analytically. Sifting through mountains of complex, conflicting data is my idea of a fun weekend. No surprise I've been researching family histories as a hobby since the mid-1990s.
My paternal grandmother Eddy (Smith) Hammond got us interested in genealogy when I was pretty young. Once I got my own copy of the (spoken of in reverent tones by the entire family) book documenting one of her family's lineages, it only took a few weeks and a couple of emails to determine that its claims of royal descent were totally and obviously bogus. That experience shaped my views on evidence: namely, that I like for there to be some and for it to make sense. I've been a killjoy ever since, disproving my own family's lines and probably yours too.
On my mother's side, we kept a dresser drawer full of lovingly-handwritten family group sheets, copies of family Bible pages, and typewritten genealogical manuscripts from the Baumanns, Fowlers, Frys, and Moores. Every few years when I was a kid, we'd all sit down and pore over them and marvel at our history back to the third or fourth generation. It kind of blows my mind that I can use online resources today to find primary and secondary sources to the 13th generation and beyond—and to confirm that most of what was written generations ago really does check out.
My proudest accomplishment so far is (tentatively) breaking through the Hunnewell Hammond brick wall, with help from my aunt's visit to a pioneer cemetery in rural Iowa. My research on Ancestry enabled me to tell my father and aunts things—sourced, provable—that they never knew about their own father, Harry Hammond. As far as I know, I'm the only researcher working on this branch of the Hammonds, and it's exciting to be doing a tiny bit of original work.
In 2015-16, I also made some amazing progress on two more major brick walls!! Online newspaper archives from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, helped me discover the identity of my great-grandmother Agnes (McCaulskey) Rehbein's semi-estranged mother, Victoria (Matuszak) Lewandowski Michalski and her extended family, and confirm their Polish origins. A DNA match alerted me to the existence of a Polish online records archive (in Polish), where I was able to put together a strong case for the origin, near Danzig (now Gdańsk), of my great-great-grandparents Henry Rehbein and Marianna Gesella. I figured from the names that they were a mixed German-Polish family; now it looks like Marianna's parents were, too.
In 2013, I researched my mother- and father-in-law's ancestries as a Christmas present to them, and was thrilled to document my partner's and stepdaughter's descent from a genuine Charlemagne Gateway Ancestor. Every few months I panic and go back and retrace the line from them to Thomas Owsley III just to be sure I didn't make some huge error. Later, I discovered that I have a Charlemagne connection of my own through Peter Worden.
With varying levels of confidence, I can trace my descent back to a bunch of New England immigrants in the Puritan Great Migration. I keep a list of all my PGM and other immigrant ancestors here on WikiTree, recently moved to its own page. It's useful for me to keep track of what's known and not known about them.
Puritans are fun, but I'm actually majority German/Polish and Swiss. I've been lucky enough to connect with a Swiss researcher who wrote a book about our shared family's migration from Aargau to Sandusky County, Ohio in the 1800s. Unfortunately, it's in German and I only just barely know any German, so I'm using Google to help him translate the entire book into English one chapter at a time. Eventually we'll publish an English edition for all the USA descendants.
Yes, I do have a full-time job which isn't genealogy, and I also volunteer as an alumnae admissions representative for my alma mater, Smith College.
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